... or this poached egg with asparagus mousse and black truffle from Antico Arco...
... I will write only about the pizza I ate in Rome. Since I just made it to three places, it is difficult for me to make generalizations about the pizza in Rome or draw any conclusions based on my experiences. I can, however, make some suggestions about places to go (and avoid).
The first place you should avoid is Dar Poeta (45 Vicolo Del Bologna, 39-06-6830-7769) which is located in the funky and hip Trastevere neighborhood on the west bank of the Tiber, south of Vatican City. The place had gotten mixed reviews online, but I decided to go there for two reasons: (a) I wanted to check out Trastevere and (b) I was there on a Sunday when many places are closed or have odd hours. I knew it was open, in a cool area, and at least some people who'd eaten there raved about it.
To be frank, it was the worst pizza I had during my trip. I ordered a Margherita pie (€6.00, about $8.00) and it was difficult to proceed past the first bite. The cheese was perhaps the worst part -- definitely a far cry from fresh mozzarella that adorned pies in Naples. And the cracker-like crust was hard to work through. There was no basil. It's not really a place worthy of being reviewed, but as I'm recapping all of the pizza I ate in Italy, I have no choice but to dedicate a post to Dar Poeta.
If I sound harsh, here are a couple of things to consider (this is me hoping that maybe the pizza wasn't as bad as I actually thought it was): (1) I had just come from Naples, where I had some of the best pizza on the planet, so perhaps my expectations were heightened; (2) I had just eaten a delicious lunch at Trattoria Monti and was dining at Dar Poeta on a somewhat full stomach (3) I went at an off-hour (5PM) and perhaps whoever made my pie was out of sync or the oven wasn't at the proper temperature.
Although I try to avoid reading other reviews, this place baffles me. It got a pretty good write-up on Slice which noted that "this is the real deal," but the user comments below range from "easily the best pizza we had in Rome" to "the pie I had there was the weakest I had that week in Rome. I felt like I had been suckered into a tourist trap." On Chowhound, one user writes, "we went twice while we were there" and another notes that "it was a revelation" -- using words likes "amazing" and "unprecedented." But a review on Hidden Palette points out the following: "It’s not the service or the price that I have a problem with here, as they are both perfectly reasonable; it’s the Pizza... Making things worse is the quality and quantity of the toppings they use. Both pizzas I tried were barely visible underneath the abundance of tasteless cheese and the tomato was scarcely detectable." That's how I felt.
The best thing about Dar Poeta was the space itself. Checkered table cloths, wooden chairs, and brick walls, give the space a very homey Roman vibe and there is a lower level which is somewhat secluded and, I imagine, hopping during regular business hours. Even if it is a place to be seen once dinnertime roles around, it's a place where I won't been seen ever again.
The above piece is the 10th article in a 13-part series about my pizza adventures in Italy (January 2011 - February 2011). You can access the other parts of the series here:
Introduction (Part 1)
Da Michele - Naples (Part 2)
Pizzeria Brandi - Naples (Part 3)
Caputo Flour Mill - Naples - (Part 4)
Salvo - Naples (Part 5)
Pizzeria Starita - Naples (Part 6)
Buffalo Mozzarella Tour - Caserta (Part 7)
Di Matteo - Naples (Part 8)
Sorbillo - Naples (Part 9)
Dar Poeta - Rome (Part 10)
Forno Marco Roscioli - Rome (Part 11)
00100 Pizza - Rome (Part 12)
Pizzeria Pellone - Naples (Part 13)